Blackhawk Industrial Maintenance Class is First to Graduate through State Workforce Advancement Initiative

July 8, 2022

(Milton, WI) More than a dozen students graduated Friday from an inaugural Accelerated Industrial Maintenance (AIM) program made possible by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“This graduating class is the very first class that we have through Gov. Tony Evers’s Workforce Advancement Initiative. We distributed $20 million throughout all the workforce boards around the state for subsidized, on-the-job skills training – programs just like this – to help keep our workforce moving ahead and economic recovery going full speed ahead. We are so thankful for you, and we are so proud of you,” Amy Pechacek, DWD Secretary-Designee, said at the graduation, which was held at Blackhawk’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton.

In partnership with Blackhawk Technical College and the Stateline Manufacturing Alliance, the Accelerated Industrial Maintenance program was facilitated through the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (SWWDB). SWWDB received a $1.6 million grant through the Evers initiative and administered through the DWD last fall to implement several projects to help assist and improve the workforce needs in several critical areas, including industrial maintenance.

Nicholas Villarello, a graduate of Parker High School in Janesville, was one of 16 students who completed the AIM program. He spoke at the graduation.

“Originally, going into this course, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was thinking about welding or becoming a lineman. My mom actually recommended this course, and I took it because it was a really great opportunity,” Villarello said. “I enjoyed all of it.”

Villarello is now going on to work at Scot Forge.

The six-week AIM summer program was comprised of Blackhawk courses that provided a foundation skillset for those seeking career opportunities in industrial maintenance and technology. The program can be applied toward a Maintenance Technical Diploma from Blackhawk. The program also included career exploration opportunities at local manufacturers.

“I applaud you for your commitment, the skills you’ve gained,” Dr. Tracy Pierner, President of Blackhawk, told the graduates. “Our partners need you, our community needs you. It is programs like this – and graduates like you – that are the key to making a difference.”